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Bal Thackeray's memorial to come up at Mumbai Mayor's bungalow, says Devendra Fadnavis

BAL TAKRE

On the third death anniversary of Bal Thackeray, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis announced a memorial for the Shiv Sena founder in what is being seen as a major thaw in the icy relations the BJP has recently had with its junior ally in the state.

With Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray sitting next to him at Mumbai's Shivaji Park, Fadnavis announced, "The government has selected the Mayor's bungalow as the spot to build Bala Saheb's memorial. A foundation will also be set up and will be headed by Uddhavji." He said a grand memorial for Thackeray reflects the sentiments of the people of Maharashtra. The scenic bungalow offers an uninterrupted view of Dadar Chowpatty and has been the official residence of Mayor for more than four decades now. A piece of land adjacent to the residence may have to be acquired for the memorial. Thackeray, who died on November 17, 2012, was cremated at the Shivaji Park, the sprawling ground which currently houses a small memorial for him in a corner. The Sena-ruled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has constructed a landscaped garden at the cremation site, where Shiv Sainiks visit regularly to pay their respect to the late leader.

After frequently criticising the BJP through the party's mouthpiece, Saamana, Uddhav, encouraged by his party's performance in Bihar, last week said his party may contest the Assembly polls in other states as well to "fill the vacuum of Hindutva thought." Sena had contested the elections in Bihar independently, though the party hardly left a footprint behind.

In the recent Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Corporation polls, after an acrimonious campaign in which Sena and BJP targeted each other, Sena emerged as the biggest party with 52 seats in the house of 122, but fell short of majority. It later entered into a pact with BJP, which won 42 seats, to share the Mayor's post by turns.